At Alpenventures UNGUIDED, we have tours to fit every skill level, and that are suitable for varying fitness levels. Below is the description of our various difficulty ratings. If you aren't sure about anything, please ask us. And if you don't see what you are looking for in our tour offerings, then consider letting us organize a custom tour for you.
For each tour, difficulty ratings are given related to physical condition and technical difficulty under normal conditions.
When reviewing the ratings please be sure to apply them to the activity that will be undertaken during the tour. For example, a snowshoe tour that has a “Physical Condition” rating of “Middle” will be more challenging than a hiking tour with the same rating.
There is always a possibility that certain conditions may present unexpected challenges on the tours. Some examples include snowfields on an early-season hut hiking tour, a fresh dump of snow on a snowshoe tour or rock-fall on a via ferrata tour. Tour participants should always be prepared to deal with unexpected difficulties. Due to the fast rate at which the glaciers are melting, the technical challenges associated with a glacier change each year.
Details regarding daily active times or distance and elevation gain for each tour are included in the Itinerary section of the tour description. Details regarding technical difficulty on a tour are included under the Skills and Experience Required section for that tour. We also include photos, and often videos, to allow you to assess the difficulty of a tour yourself.
Low: This tour presents few technical challenges and can be completed without special knowledge and training*
Middle: Knowledge and training are required in the corresponding activity for this tour. Please check the Skills and Experience Required in the Tour Description for more information
High: This tour presents significant technical difficulty and extensive knowledge and training are required in the corresponding activity for this tour. Please check the Skills and Experienced Required in the Tour Description for more information
*Navigation skills, an ability to judge weather conditions and the ability to pack the right equipment are considered basic knowledge and are required for every Alpenventures UNGUIDED tour
Activities by Foot (Trekking and Via Ferratas)
Low: Capable of up to 5 hours of the corresponding activity per day and 610 meters/2,000 feet of elevation gain
Middle: Capable of up to 8 hours of the corresponding activity per day and 1,220 meters/4,000 feet of elevation gain
High: Capable of more than 8 hours of the corresponding activity per day and more than 1,220 meters/4,000 feet of elevation gain
Low: Capable of up to 50 kilometers/31 miles per day and 500 meters/1,640 feet of elevation gain per day
Middle: Capable of up to 80 kilometers/50 miles and 800 meters/2,625 feet of elevation gain per day
High: Capable of more than 80 kilometers/50 miles and more than 800 meters/2,625 feet of elevation gain per day
Low: Capable of up to 50 kilometers/31 miles per day and 800 meters/2,625 feet of elevation gain per day
Middle: of up to 80 kilometers/50 miles and 1,200 meters/3,937 feet of elevation gain per day
High: Capable of more than 80 kilometers/50 miles and more than 1,200 meters/3,937 feet of elevation gain per day
As a result of the rapid rate at which the glaciers in the Alps are melting, the technical challenges presented by a glacier vary from year to year. It is important to always ask the staff at a nearby hut about the current conditions, and if there are any challenges present. Below are some situations to be aware of:
As the glaciers melt, the rocks they previously held in place are set loose, threatening enormous danger to those below. Luckily, the Alps are heavily traveled, and measures are usually taken to re-route, or even close, routes that are subject to excessive rockfall. This is one reason it is always important to ask the hut staff about current conditions. Even if a route is still open, it may still be subject to rockfall. If a safe line through the terrain isn't obvious, we recommend identifying an alternative route.
Accessing the Glacier
The retreating glaciers expose new terrain each year, making it nearly impossible to keep access trails in good condition. In cases where the newly exposed terrain is steep, and especially when it is loose rock, this can cause a significant jump in technical demand. In particular, when the glacier is adjacent to a via ferrata, there can be a resulting gap between the via ferrata equipment and the glacier. We recommend carrying a rope on all via ferratas that lie adjacent to a glacier.
There are many different scales that are used to rate via ferrata difficulty. At Alpenventures UNGUIDED, we used the Schall Scale, which is the standard in Austria.